Do you use images to tell stories? Do you include images with your stories? Have you ever noticed the kinds of posts that you tend to click on the most? For me, I click on posts with photos of friends, dogs, cats, GREAT graphics, big trucks, and deer. I like short videos, too: dogs, cool music, funny stuff, and sometimes the weird and whacky (if the preview image is interesting enough).
When posts on social media feeds are all text, we tend to skim over them because nothing catches our eye.
Even on the business platform LinkedIn, articles with a good preview will get more hits than one with no preview. While we’re talking about LinkedIn and images, if I get an invitation to connect from someone without a profile photo, just the default icon, forget connecting unless I know you personally. It feels like these people are either hiding behind the icon, lazy, or have no idea how to add a photo.
Good profile photos build recognition, and relationships. As you communicate out to your social network, people feel a real connection to you because your face becomes familiar – it’s part of your personal story and brand.
There’s a lot of research online about the positive effects of visual content:
So what kind of visual content should you create? Here are 5 IDEAS and some things to keep in mind.
1. Your Own Photos. Choose or take photos relevant to your social media posts, blog articles, or newsletter topic. Cell phone camera image quality is improving all the time. I’ve even seen contests for iPhone photography – WOW, great stuff! Make sure your photos are in focus. Crop images to remove unnecessary parts. Try some of the editing features built into your phone or camera, you can change the color space, add filters, remove red eye, and do other cool things. For protection of your property (the photos), watermark your original photos before posting. You can add your business or personal name and © year along the edge, or even faded and angled across the image so it doesn’t interfere.
2. Graphical Quotes. Use an original photo, patterned background graphic, or even a colored box. Layer the quote text on top with interesting fonts, text treatments, colors, or filters. Relevant and inspirational quotes will quickly strike a chord, and be readily shared by your readers and followers. By all means, share other people’s graphical quotes, too! Start a collection. Subscribe to different quote-of-the-day feeds. There are endless relevant quotes to share.
3. Video Clips. Create short video clips with your phone or webcam. Share a quick tip that your audience can use right away, tell a joke, or share the view where you are at the moment. People really connect when they can hear you and see your smiling face! It’s much more personal.
4. Feature Images. When you share a link to your latest blog post, make sure you can choose and set the feature or preview image. It’s much more powerful when the preview image is related to your content, rather than the Mailchimp or Aweber default logo, or no image at all. For example, if you write about a customer, feature their logo, a photo of their product, or an infographic from their industry.
5. Draw Something. Try your hand at drawing a cartoon, share a rough sketch from a brainstorming session, scan hand written notes or doodles. I know, you can’t even draw straight line with a ruler, right? So what! Share part of who you are with a drawing you created. You might be surprised by the response.
You’ll notice all of these suggestions are about creating ORIGINAL visual content to tell stories with images. There are online resources where you can download “free” photos and graphics, and give proper credit and links to the creators, that could take people AWAY from your article or post. It’s safer, more fun, and more authentically YOU to share your own original visual content.
With all this data proving visual content trumps text only, and lots of ideas for creating it, now you need some tools and resources to help you with your own visual content creation.
There is a range of options and price points, and you should do some research to decide which tools will fit your needs and budget. Also, not everyone is comfortable learning new applications. Remember you can also hire someone to create visual content for you, or trade services.
At the high end of the price scale, and learning curve, is Adobe Creative Suite, which includes the applications Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. These are powerful tools with a lot of options to create all kinds of visual content. Each of these tools offers a free trial. Photoshop has a subscription plan for $9.99/month. www.adobe.com
In the middle of the price range and learning curve are Microsoft Office tools: Powerpoint, Word, Paint, and Publisher. Plus the Mac counterparts (either installed already, or available for download, i.e. FREE): iPhoto, Pages, and Keynote. These tools do a decent job creating visual content, but they have limitations.
Some low cost and free online applications you can use include: www.canva.com, www.picmonkey.com, and www.gimp.org. These online tools offer free accounts, optional paid upgrades or image purchase, and user guides and tutorials. Plus, you can find free training courses with a couple of searches.
Now that you are armed with ideas and tools, start creating your own visual content! If you have favorite tools, resources, or ideas you’d like to share, let me know in the comments. If you know someone who wants to start creating visual content, please SHARE!